What the public would like to know is how did the ministry arrive at these figures? Can it guarantee that this will solve the oversupply of graduates, high unemployment and low salaries? And how can it know for sure without conducting an in-depth study? The graduate market is extremely unpredictable, complex and forever in flux.
The best way for the education and employment markets to achieve equilibrium — where there is parity of supply and demand — is for those involved to have freedom of choice, as an accurate cost-benefit analysis can best be done by the agents themselves.
Whether one takes up a trade, sells chicken from a roadside stand or pursues further education should remain the individual’s choice, freely arrived at, as is choosing to run a school or a company. The ministry has no business getting involved. Why does it not get serious about deregulating higher education in this country?
Over the past decade or so, what has been done to deregulate higher education is not worth mentioning, as it has largely been controlled by the ministry, along the same lines as the policy of opening up the banks. Working counter to the market mechanism as it does, it is little wonder that the policy has been rejected by the market and has led the nation to the dire straits it is in, with this surplus of supply.
Far from being the needed reform, this is just more of the same from the government, which cannot keep itself from interfering and exacerbating the situation by insisting on mergers and closures.
Wu Hui-lin is a researcher at the Chung-Hua Institution for Economic Research.
Translated by Paul Cooper